May 31, 2013

traveling with kids

Several of you have asked if I would share my tips on traveling with kids, and I am finally getting around to entertaining that request.  But before I delve into what works for us, there are a few things you need to know and remember...
  • I have never traveled with the girls on my own.
  • We have never been on an extra long car trip, only flown to our destination.
  • We almost always are visiting my parents house, where almost every baby gear item I use at my own home is available to me.  And my parents are pretty much the bomb, super helpful, and will do almost anything to make my life easier.
  • I am a notorious over packer.
Ok, with all that out of the way, here is how we survive traveling with a toddler and an infant.  I tried to make it really organized, but, um, I quickly start jumping from one thing to another.  Good luck following a long :o).

photo 1(8)
say hello to the bag lady.  and my underwhelmed toddler.

Do what works.
First and foremost, do what works for you.  I used to try and pack books, coloring pages, crayons, toys, etc, to keep Ryann entertained.  But the truth is that the iPad and snacks go a long way.  A LONG way.  So I gave up on my urge to have Ry utilize as little technology as possible, and just keep her quiet with the iPad and snacks.  Lots of snacks.  And headphones for the iPad.  She is so content to sit and watch Dinosaur Train or play games, that she doesn't make a peep for the majority of the flight.  And she has just gotten used to the fact that we can't use the iPad at the beginning or end of the flight, and if she is fussing that is when I break out the food.  But stickers, a new coloring book, or one of these travel aquadoodle mats are all relatively portable and would be a good distraction too.

This past trip the only reasonable flight time for us, left us stuck on a plane for five hours over lunch time.  I used these Easy Lunchboxes to pack food for Ryann and I.  They're great.  I'm also a huge fan of the Zoli Sumo Snack Stack.  You can pack a lot in that thing.  I usually put fruit (grapes and blueberries) in one compartment, nuts, raisins and oatmeal squares in the next, and some sort of cereal or cracker she usually doesn't get in the bottom one, to break out if she is starting to lose it.  The only downside to packing in these kind of containers versus disposable baggies, is that you don't lose any bulk as you finish food.

photo 2(8)

In regards to a drink on the plane, I just pack an empty kid's Camelbak, buy a big water after I go through security, pour some into Ry's cup and drink the rest.  Also, during take off or landing, or both, I'll give Ryann a squeezy pouch.  It helps her ears pop, and I know she is getting some veggies in her.  Oh and someone asked if the girl's ears seem to be bothered?  Usually only on the way down.  Ryann has told me that her ears hurt.  Usually when she seems uncomfortable or tells me they hurt, mine are popping or bothering me too.  So I tend to use that as reference.  If my ears start to twinge I encourage her to drink some water or pass her a squeezy pouch.

Getting through security.
Alright so you've got everything but the kitchen sink packed in your bags and you've made it to the airport, but now you have to get all that stuff inside and yourself through security.  My first piece of advice?  Bring your stroller.  Your full size stroller.  Your giant double if you've got it.  Yes it can seem like kind of a pain, but the ability to strap your kids down while checking in is vital.  And when you do decide to let them out, you now have a vehicle to carry all your crap.  I just check my stroller (and my infant seat) at the gate.

I have never brought a car seat on the plane.  Neither of my kids likes to sit in one, so it would be more of a hassle to lug it with me and keep them happy.  As I mentioned above, I check my infant carrier at the gate.  Though it is controversial, I check my convertible seat with my luggage.  So far we haven't noticed any damage to the seat, but some claim checking your seat is like it being a car accident, so to each their own.  Do what you feel comfortable with.  To protect my seat a bit, and help me lug the dang thing around, I got one of these backpacks.  Frequently I am traveling with my mom, and there is just no way either of us could actually carry the seat in our hands.  There are some products that would put your car seat on wheels so you could roll it around, but for me having a diaper bag with a cross body strap and the car seat on my back was more effective.  It leaves my hands free to push the stroller and pull a suitcase.

When we get to the front of the security line, I leave the kids in the stroller while I unload all of our bags on the belt.  I have to pull out my laptop, my plastic baggy of liquids,  and my baggy of squeezy pouches.  Then I take off my shoes (wear something you can slip on and off without your hands!  flats, flip flops...).  Once everything is on the belt, I get Elsie out of the car seat, Ry hops out of the stroller, and whatever adult is with me gets those items either on the belt or pushed up to be hand checked.  The infant carrier will fit through the scanner, my stroller frequently does not.  I usually just tell them it won't fit and they hand check it without issue, because otherwise it gets really beat up trying to make it fit.  So far only once have they made us take the stupid stroller completely apart and fit it through the scanner piece by piece (we have the City Select).

Now if your infant likes to be in a carrier such as the Moby, it might work really well for you to have it on when you get to the airport so you can transfer baby from the car seat to there, and still maintain use of your hands.  Elsie doesn't much like the carrier so I avoid it for the most part.

photo 3(2)  

Your Carry-ons.
In regard to the bags I carry, I generally travel with the car seat, a suitcase for me and one for the girls (it's a lot, but we are usually gone a week or more), the diaper bag (I recently got this one and love it!) and my Kelly Moore bag.  The suitcases and the car seat get checked at the desk, the other bags I carry on with me. 

The Kelly Moore bag holds my camera, a lens if I take an extra, my laptop, phone, iPad, Ry's headphones, some snacks and my wallet.  In the diaper bag I keep all of the baby essentials (diapers, wipes, nursing cover, change of clothes, etc.).  Make sure to have at least one change of clothes for each child (I bring two for Elsie, sleepers or rompers so I don't have to carry multiple outfit pieces) and it isn't a bad idea to have an extra shirt for yourself.  Diaper blowouts, leaks or a pukey baby are bound to happen, and you don't want to be left wandering the airport in a poop stained shirt.  Pack your extra clothes in a plastic bag or a wet bag so that you have somewhere to put the soiled clothing if you need an outfit change.  It's also a good idea to have a plastic bag on hand (or one of these) for any diapers you have to change while on the plane.

Speaking of changing diapers, I came across a travel pad that I love.  It is called the Ah Goo Baby Plush Pad.  I won't lie, it is bulky and takes up a lot of room, so I won't keep it in the diaper bag on a daily basis.  But some of the airports diaper changing areas are a rock solid counter top, so the memory foam in this thing is great.  It has little elastics on each end to keep it rolled up when it isn't in use which is nice.  And it came in handy when we had to change a diaper on the plane, as well as when we were just sitting around during our stop.

photo 5(1)

We also make sure to bring a blanket and a lovey for Ry.  For the most part we don't have to get it out anymore, but it came in handy helping to convince her to take a little nap on the plane.  And she always surprised me and up until this trip, pretty much always took at least a 30 minute nap on the plane.

Sleeping Arrangements.
I was asked about how our sleeping arrangements work on vacation, and again, this is an area that I have some luxury in.  My parents beach house has plenty of bedrooms, so Ry has always been in a separate room.  When all the rooms needed to be occupied, my parents let her sleep in one of their small room sized closets on an inflatable mattress.

Nearly every time we've stayed at a hotel, we've gotten adjoining rooms with my parents, so that we could put Ry down in our room, leave the door cracked, and hang out after she went to bed.  Adjoining rooms are also super helpful at nap time.  We used to bring our pack 'n play for her, and at Christmas we put her on the fold out chair with a pillow fort all around her to keep her from falling out.  This past weekend in Nashville, Ryann slept on the inflatable mattress in my parents room and Chris, Elsie and I were in an adjoining room.  Chris and I slept in one bed, and we put Elsie in the dead center of the other double.

Keeping their schedule.
For the most part, while we are on vacation, I still try and stick to Ryann's schedule that we keep at home.  If there is something we want to be out and about for during nap time, we do it, she is relatively flexible.  But usually in Georgia we are just hanging out enjoying the weather, and it isn't tough to bring her back in to rest for a bit.  I've always tried to keep her on central time (so we eat lunch at 1 instead of 12, quiet time at 2 instead of 1), but again, she doesn't really seem to notice if we do things a little different than the norm.  Toddlers can't tell time :o).

To aid with rest time and bed time, we bring a sleep buddy with us wherever we go.  She is starting to care less and less about following it, but it is still a great indicator of when she should be quiet and resting.

photo 4(2)

Beach Tips.
Kristin asked for some beach tips on facebook, but I'm sorry to report that I don't really have any good ones.  My parent's home is literally steps from the beach, so we just lather up with some sunscreen and drag our beach toys down there.  When we get bored, someone has to pee or gets hungry, we just walk back up to the house.  I have yet to try the baby powder trick (I have no idea why) but maybe next time.  I would suggest not bringing a bag or towels you use on the regular, because ohmygawd sand EVERYWHERE.  EV.REE.WHERE.

Not sure if that covers what people have been wanting to know, but hopefully it helps!  Traveling can be really stressful (I still get incredibly stressed out, because I'm ALWAYS running late), but remember the situation probably isn't as bad as you think, and if your toddler is tormenting the other passengers on the plane, well, you probably will never see them again :o).  If you  have any other questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer them!  

May 30, 2013

mama memoirs: i'm tired.

I'm a good mom.

My children are fed, clothed and bathed.  They are my world and I love them fiercely.  I make sure they are taken care of.  I am a good mom.

But I'm not the mom I want to be.  I'm not the person I want to be.

I'm struggling.

I know Elsie is still so young, and in a short while life will look so much different.  I know Ryann is at a trying age and is head strong and that isn't my fault.

But I'm tired of just surviving the day.

I hate myself for being short with Ryann.  I know that only makes her push back harder.  But in the heat of the moment when she is testing the very last of my paitence, I snap.  I can't stop myself.

I can't tell you the last time I did a craft with her, or the last time we worked on learning any academics.  Are those things necessary?  No.  But I WANT to do them.  I just haven't managed to figure it all out yet.

My house is always a mess.  I rarely wear make-up.  The same two laundry baskets full of random crap have been sitting on my bedroom floor for longer than I can remember.  I just don't know what to do with the stuff that's in there.

By the time my husband gets home everyday, I'm almost always in a crappy mood.  I'm sure he dreads walking in the door daily.  We don't spend enough time with each other.  After the frantic evening circus of playtime, dinner, baths and bed I retreat into my own head, not wanting to talk or do anything.  Hoping that Elsie will miraculously sleep past 2am.

I want so badly to make good on my New Year's resolution.  I want to be happy and enjoy life and my kids and my family.  But every single day I let something drag me down.

I don't know what it is going to take to get out of this funk, but I hope I can figure it out soon.



May 28, 2013

Georgia Snapshots

Lately I have been TERRIBLE about getting out my big camera.  My phone is just so much quicker.  But I did manage to snap a few shots that I really liked while we were in Georgia.  So...


That last one kills me.  Those eyebrows, they say so much!  And actually I was already dead thanks to the matching swimsuits.  We've got my Auntie Donna to thank for those!

Now to upload all my instagram pictures from the week...

May 27, 2013

detox time.

Hello?  Anyone there?  Well, I didn't intend on completely disappearing for a week, but we had a heck of a lot of fun on vacation.  I had some spare minutes that I could have used to toss up a blog post, but instead I read Insurgent (the sequel to Divergent, check them out!) and laid on the couch with Chris watching Game of Thrones.  Important stuff I tell you!

While we were having a good time, I completely threw in the towel on being sugar free, dairy free and eating clean.  And I am paying for it, big time.  A couple weeks ago I had the littlest bit of cheese, and there was chocolate in those brownies I made.  Shortly after it seemed like Elsie was spitting up a lot more.  I assumed it was the dairy.  So I did what any great mom would do... decided I was going to binge on dairy for a bit before going cold turkey again.  Surprisingly, the extra spittiness only last for a little bit, and now Elsie doesn't seem affected by the change in my diet.  So who knows what causes her to spit up.

Anyway, between the dairy, sweets and being in the land of all things fried, as well as a weekend enjoying wedding festivities, my body is hurting.  I had more alcohol in the last week than I've had in the last year.  It only took a day of poor eating for me to feel lethargic and just plain gross (which you think would have encouraged me to eat better, but fried pickles...).  Christopher noticed it as well.  We were amazed at how quickly we noticed the change in our diets.

So now?  It's back to business.  There is no way I'm stepping on the scale anytime soon.  I can tell you it won't be good.  I'm retaining water like it's my job AND I ate way too much.  Not going to beat myself up about it though, just going to jump back into a healthier lifestyle!  Which leads me to some of our favorite ways to have healthy options on hand.

Really eating healthy isn't all that hard, it just tends to take a little extra prep work.  My favorite way to be prepared for a healthy lunch, is by having dinner leftovers in the fridge that double as salad toppings.  Which in all honesty, you can turn almost anything into a salad topper, but I have a few favorites.  First up?  Taco filling.


Such an easy peasy yummy and healthy meal.  First I cook a pound of ground turkey, throw in some taco seasoning, dump in a can each of corn, black beans and diced tomatoes and warm it all up.  Then you can serve it in tortillas with your favorite taco toppings, or over a bed of lettuce.  I usually choose the salad route for a nice filling meal.  Make sure you toss in some avocado too :o).

Another great protein for topping a salad is grilled chicken.  A while back Chris made a rub that we like to put on chicken before sticking it on the grill.  So lately we have been cooking a couple extra chicken breasts, slicing them up and putting them in the fridge.  Warm up the chicken (or leave it cold if that is the way you like it), put it along with some other veggies over lettuce and you have yourself a quick salad.

I'm also a huge fan of shrimp and warm veggies on my salad.  For dinner we'll put together some sort of stir fry, or sauteed shrimp and vegetable meal.  The next day, warm up some leftovers, put it over lettuce, and you've got yourself a great salad.  Usually thanks to the seasoning and little bit of oil we've cooked in, I don't even need a dressing.

Right now those are my three favorite leftovers to have in the fridge.  What are your favorite meals that provide healthy leftovers?


Link up your health and fitness related posts below!

May 18, 2013

hello happy place.


Sigh.  There is just something so relaxing about this place.  Even if I don't get to do a whole lot of relaxing myself (of course the parents do a pretty good job of making life easier on me though!).  The girls and I traveled with my mom here on Thursday, Papa was here waiting for us, and the rest of the family gets in tonight.  I'm hoping for an amazingly wonderful vacation!

So I was just popping in to say hello.  Not sure how much I'll be around this week.  But thanks to more than one request I'm working on rounding up some of my travel tips for a post.  Please, please tell me what you want to hear about!  I will say I'm a chronic overpacker and I've never traveled with Ryann let alone both the girls by myself, so I have no experience in that department.  But hopefully after many many trips with kids I have picked up a few helpful bits of travel knowledge.

If you need me I'll be sunning my skin on the beach.

Or trying to get Elsie to take a nap.

Or attempting to convince the toddler to behave.

Same difference, right?

May 17, 2013

mother's day (and the 5k)

There wasn't anything too crazy special about mother's day this year, but I got to do something I love and spend time with people I love, so it wasn't half bad.  Actually mother's day weekend was glorious because Christopher had the entire weekend off.  That hasn't happened in quite a while and it was SO nice.

I started mother's day off with my first post baby race, the same race I ran when I did my first 5k (side note, I laugh every time I read that post, I said I'd never understand the people that love running :o), and the race I PR'ed the 5k last year.  So fitting that it was my first one back.  I was a little a lot nervous.  Really I had no reason to be.  It is such a nice event, lots of happy ladies starting their day off in a healthy way.  No pressure.  But I didn't want to be dissapointed in my time.  I've run over three miles more than a handful of times since Elsie was born, so I knew I would make it, but I'm ready to be faster again.


That morning I almost didn't have Chris and the girls come to the race.  It was chillier, usually Elsie won't nap in her car seat, Chris has seen me run a 5k plenty of times, it was early, the list goes on.  But we all managed to get up on time and out the door and it turned out not to be as cold as I thought it would and Elsie slept in her car seat... and I was so incredibly thankful to have them there.  There is just something about coming around a corner and seeing them there that makes a race so much better.  And Ryann likes race days because Chris always makes her a special 'race day snack', which means Chris sneaks some chocolate chips or marshmallows or sugary cereal into her snack bag.  So we were all happy.

I opted to line up between the 9 and 10 minute mile markers.  I wanted to finish in under 30 minutes, but I was pretty confident I would die if I tried to run under a 9 minute mile.  When the race started I was annoyed with the congestion.  I mean, yes, that is a popular pace area, it makes sense that there were a lot of people packed in there, it just seemed to take a bit for everyone to get moving.  I saw Chris and the girls, gave them a little wave, and then started weaving.  I had to get a little free space in front of me.


The good part about running this race three years in a row?  I pretty much know the course and am comfortable running it.  The bad part about running this race three years in a row?  I pretty much know the course.  And I can't make those mile markers pop up any earlier on the route :o).  The first two miles went relatively quickly.  I felt ok.  But by the start of the third mile I could tell I was running a little quicker than I had been training.  I was getting tired.  It didn't help that I'd gotten maybe 4-5 hours of broken sleep the last two nights.  And then at one point I thought we were at the last little out and back, and I was wrong, there was still another left, and that was pretty defeating.  I was so ready to be done.  People started passing me.  I wanted to pick up my pace but my body was just out of juice.

When I finally saw the finish line ahead of me I gave it everything I had.  I could see the clock hadn't reached 29 minutes, and I was determined to make it across the mats before it did.  So I gunned it, on fumes of course, but I finished strong.  I grabbed a bottle of water and started to scan the crowd for Christopher, but I reached the food tables before I found them so I grabbed some snacks.  I had intended on just getting a banana, but the cookies and brownie bites were calling to me.  They just were.  And the brownie bites were oh so worth it.  :o)  I really took it up a notch by eating a bite of banana followed by a bite of brownie.  Yum.


Elsie woke up just as I was finishing my snacks, so we packed up and headed home.  Chris took Ry to the park, I fed Elsie, we put together a salad and I took a shower.  Then it was off to Christopher's Grandma's house for lunch with his family.  Anita brought Ryann a stomp rocket and it was a huge hit.  I'm loving it because it is an energy burning activity that Ryann can do all by herself :o).  Of course she'd prefer someone to play with her, but she can do it, and she loves it.


Eventually we headed home, had some dinner, did some chores, got the kiddos in bed... a pretty uneventful day.  But I was very happy to be with my family.  Eventually I looked up my official race time.  28:30.  Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.  I finished 215 out of 3,674 overall and 20th out of 351 in the 25-29 age group.  I look forward to running the race again next year, and maybe, just maybe, I could set a new 5k PR!

May 15, 2013

a day in the life - jenn

I'm a procrastinator by nature.  I simply cannot finish anything ahead of time.  Combine that with a complete lack of time and us leaving for a 10 day vacation soon and I am a complete mess.  Thank goodness for guest posts!  Hope you enjoy getting a peek at Jenn's day.


Hi there! I am Jenn and I blog over at The Elsewhere Blog. I am a working mom to 3 year old Oskar (Ozzie) and we live in beautiful Portland, OR. I work full time in HR and run a successful photography business on nights and weekend so I am a very busy gal! Here's a sneak peek into my daily life!

5:15 am Husband's alarm goes off. I am not thrilled since I do not get up until about 6 (or whenever the kiddo comes barging into our room.)

5:45 Kiddo comes into our room and asks to snuggle. Um yes please! Generally he is cranky and barking orders. Milk! Banana! Power Rangers! Today he brought Sal the snake with him and insisted on having him in our picture.

6:00 Get up and get the kiddo situated on the couch with his breakfast and the aforementioned Power Rangers.

6:10 Get in the shower.

6:25 Decide that blowdrying is overrated and a waste of time today. Ponytail FTW!

6:50 Kiss the kiddo and Hubs goodbye.

7:05 Leave for work. My commute is about 30 minutes on average.

7:15 Stop at the drive through Starbucks since I got home from a show last night at 11:30. BAD idea. Let's be honest though... I stop for coffee almost daily, just today I was in desperate need.

7:45 Start my work day! I also post my daily outfits on Instagram #officefashionshow.

12:00 Grab lunch and head outside to Pioneer Square to attend the Winterhawks rally! Working downtown is nice on sunny days, always something to do.

4:45 Time to head home!

5:15 Pick up the Ozzie from Grammi Pami's (daycare).

5:45 Get home and water the plants, sometimes I even let him help. He tends to drown the poor things though! I told him once that water makes the plants happy, so I guess he's just making sure they are REALLY happy??

6:15 Start dinner and Hubs gets home.

6:45 Dinner! Tonight we had taco bowls, a family favorite.

7:15 Bath time!! For him, not me of course.

8:00 Bed time. This is a firm, non negotiable and he goes to bed really well most nights, we are super lucky in that dept.

8-9:30 I get to work editing sessions.

10:00 Bedtime!

Big thanks to Ashley for letting me share my day with you! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter as @oskarsmomma. Hope to connect soon!


Thanks for sharing your day with us Jenn!

May 14, 2013

that's what she said

Ryann:  walking into Grammy's house "I'm so happy to be home."
Yes, she prefers their place over ours.  I would too.

Me:  "Are you done going potty?"
Ryann:  "Hold on, I'm pushing out some brown stuff.  It's called poop."
I know she'll love me for recording that one.  :o)

Me:  "I'm going to go take a shower."
Ryann:  "AGAIN?!?!?  But you showered yesterday!"
My toddler has observed the fact that I rarely manage to shower two days in a row.

while in the bathroom, after she had woken me from a very VERY deep sleep at 5:30am 
Ryann:  "Those are some nice pajamas you have on!  I like the polka dots."
Me:  groggily "Thanks."
Ryann:  "I'm going to pretend the polka dots are different colors so they can be circus pajamas."
and then she proceeded to sing the 'afro circus polka dot' song from Madagascar 3 

while I was in another room nursing Elsie I overhead the following conversation between Ryann and Christopher's Uncle, while they were eating lunch with the rest of Chris's family on Mother's Day
Doug:  "Ryann, do you like tomatoes?"
Ryann:  "Oh, no no no no.  I don't like tomatoes."
Doug:  "Does Elsie like tomatoes?"
Ryann:  giggling "Oh no!  She's too little to eat tomatoes."
Doug:  "Well it's a good thing I'm not feeding her, I might have given her a tomato."
Ryann:  "You can't feed Elsie, you don't have boobs!"


May 13, 2013

i'd rather run for an hour

Hello Monday.  I wish you weren't here.  The weekend was wonderful and I wanted it to last forever!  I got to see lots of family and friends, and best of all, my husband had the ENTIRE weekend off for the first time in I can't even remember how long.  The weather was great.  Seriously, it was nearly the perfect weekend.  Per the usual the kiddos could have slept a little more, but what are you gonna do?

photo 1(13)

Saturday we celebrated my lovely friend Laura's upcoming nuptials with some bachelorette fun.  To kick of the day we had a private class at Title Boxing.  I was so excited that I was able to attend, because it is a workout I'd been interested in trying, but hadn't had the guts or the time to get around to it.  Laura has been boxing for over two years, and after taking the class I am more impressed than I already was.  The class was no freaking joke, I was exhausted!  I literally said I'd rather run for an hour then take that class.  I was living for the laps between what I'll call five minute sets.  The laps I could handle.

Seriously, the class was very humbling.  I know I'm not in the best shape I've been in my life, but I'd still consider myself relatively in shape.  And I STRUGGLED through this class.  Granted I was running on four hours of broken sleep, but it was tough.  I really did enjoy punching the bag though.  A great way to get out some aggression.  Other than the laps, my favorite part was the very end of class, where we hung from the bags in sort of a bear hug for 60 seconds.  I could handle that.  If you've never tried a boxing class, and have the opportunity, take it.  Again, I'm much more confident and comfortable running for an hour straight, but boxing was a great workout and I did have a good time.

photo 2(14)

With the bachelorette festivities and mother's day, my food choices weren't the best they could have been this weekend, but they also weren't terrible.  Slowly but surely I've found that it is much easier for me to deem a food 'not worth it'.  Mini vanilla cupcakes?  No my favorite.  A month ago I would have eaten one anyway, because it was there.  But now I know it really just isn't worth it.  I'd rather put fruit in my body than a cupcake that I won't love.

I did indulge in some bruschetta (mmmm so good), chips, brownie bites and zucchini brownies over the weekend.  But looking back overall I really didn't do that bad.  I said no to bread and potatoes yesterday at lunch, AND strawberry shortcake (mostly because I couldn't eat the ice cream).  Something that was hard to pass up was the chocolate milk after the Mother's Day 5k yesterday (which I will recap in a separate post, it went well!).  Chocolate milk is one of my favorite post race treats.  It just tastes great, and is an excellent way to refuel.  But I figured after eating cheese Saturday night, straight milk might be pushing my luck with Elsie.  She hasn't really reacted to any of my indulging though, so I'm thinking we'll be out of the clear sooner rather than later.

I'm finally seeing some of the benefits of my healthy eating.  My skin is super clear, and I've actually lost a couple of pounds.  Still four to go to get to my pre-pregnancy weight, 9-12 to go to hit my goal weight (I haven't decided my official goal) but I'm happier with where I'm at.  I'm struggling at being ok with my body right now, just because my belly is still so soft, but I can get there.  I CAN DO IT.  Just have to keep telling myself that and remind myself that this body grew two healthy beautiful babies.  It is amazing no matter what it looks like.

Oh, and planking is getting tougher, but going well.  Last night I lasted 2 minutes 8 seconds!  It is getting SO hard.  But it is fun to keep working at it.


I hope to get a little 5k recap up in the next couple of days, and next week I want to focus a little more on how we are making healthy eating easier for us.  Have a good one!

May 12, 2013

to my mother


I'm not sure you'll ever know how much I appreciate you.  I know I say thank you, but you take a lot of shit from me too.  So I don't think you can every truly understand just how lucky I feel to have you in my life.  You are one of a kind.  You are selfless.  You do so much more for me than you need to.

No doubt I wouldn't have survived these first three months of Elsie's life without you.  Well, I maybe would have survived, but it wouldn't have been pretty.  You've stepped in for me, giving Ryann the love and attention she was craving when I just couldn't give it.  You've picked up the slack where I was lacking elsewhere.  Without you around, I'm fairly confident I would have slumped into a depression.  You have been the best shoulder to lean on.  I can never ever thank you enough for that.

Thank you for raising me to be the woman I am.  And the mother I am.  You mean the world to me.  Even when my words and actions don't show it, know that I am so incredibly grateful that you are my mother.  I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.

please excuse Ryann's awkwardness :o) 

May 9, 2013

elsie - three months old

written May 9th

Three months.  I feel like this is when you officially leave the 'newborn' status, and just have a baby.  My baby is three months old!  Crazyness.  Not going to lie, I'm thankful to put this last month behind us, but mostly because of how crazy life has been and horrible Chris's schedule has been.  The lack of sleep wasn't a lot of fun either...


We haven't been to the doctor since Elsie's two month visit, so our stats are just a guesstimate.  A serious guesstimate.  According to our tape measure she is 24 inches long, and our attempts at weighing her came in somewhere between 12 pounds 3 ounces and 13 pounds.  You know, real accurate.  HA.  We should have weighed her three times, but we only did it twice (with the whole weigh the husband, and weigh the husband holding the baby thing) and got 12 pounds 3 ounces the second time.  So I guess that's what were going with?  That would make her weigh less than Ryann but be longer.  Which leads me to believe we are crappy with our estimates because they look about the same amount of squishy (Ryann at 3 months).

Currently Elsie is in all 0-3 month clothing, with the occasional newborn dress thrown in as a top.  But we will be busting the 3-6 month stuff out in the next week or so.  At least the pants.  Poor girl, always looks like she's wearing crops.  And some long sleeve shirts are more like 3/4 length or something, but hey, who cares.  She is still in a size one diaper, still nursing 6-7 times a day, and is still taking roughly four naps.


Still the first thing I'm sure everyone wants to know about (seriously, why does everyone want to know about it?  first question out of the stranger at the hair salon), how is she sleeping at night?  Well, I haven't a freaking clue how to describe it.  I think in the last two weeks I've had a couple nights with an 8 hour stretch, some nights with a five hour stretch, some with her waking every 3.5 hours, two with her waking every freaking hour and the last two nights she has woken after about 3 or 4 hours, around 12:30, ate, and then slept until 6am and been up for the day.  So um, I don't know?  I'm still trying to let her set the schedule, hoping she'll just fall into a predictable pattern, but no such luck.  Pretty soon here I'm going to have to figure out how to get some more consistent bedtimes and wake times.  At this point Ry had started to give us 8-10 hour sleep stretches at night.  I'd gladly take a little more shut eye!


She hasn't been quite as difficult to get down for naps this last month, which is really nice.  And apparently Elsie would prefer Grammy rock her to sleep for naps now as well.  Tough luck kiddo, sometimes you are stuck with me!  But it is nice that now there is someone else who can put her to sleep.  Now we just have to figure out her letting Christopher put her to sleep... before I can't stand it and intervene of course.  Elsie is still sleeping fully swaddled and still sleeping in the rock and play.  I really wanted to transition away from both, but wouldn't you know girlfriend got her first cold (terrible congestion and cough, thanks sissy!) pretty much the day we were going to try the crib.  So I didn't want to have her flat on her back.  And I tried two days of naps with one arm out of the swaddle, and that resulted mostly in short naps and a totally pissed of baby.  So today I fully swaddled her again.

Even though Elsie is still in the rock and play, we did move it to her room.  Now that Christopher and I are actually back to sharing a bed, it wasn't working to keep her in our room anymore.  He has allergies that makes him, well, a little less than quiet, and he has to get up early for work.  And we were tired of tiptoeing around our bedroom.  The first night was a little tough on me, I missed her.  But I was a lot less emotional than when we moved Ryann out of our room.  Probably because these days I'm spending so much time worrying about the girls, that is nice to have a little of my own space at night.  Hopefully we will be able to transition E into the crib and out of the swaddle sometime soon.


Elsie's spitting up issues have continued to be a lot lot less than they were the first month.  She still spits up after pretty much every feeding, but it just isn't as much and it doesn't come with screaming and tears.  Usually it is clear, which is kind of odd to me, but again, she is much happier in general, it doesn't seem to bother her too much.  I've stayed dairy free for the most part, as well as maintaining a pretty clean diet over the last few weeks.  I'm anxious to give dairy another go, but I think I'll wait until at least next month, if not until she is six months old.  If I remember correctly, Ryann's spittiness slowed down a lot around the six month (even though she was still a spitter until well past her first birthday) so I feel like that would be a 'safe' time to try it.

Tonight we (Christopher) gave Elsie her first bottle.  I was a little worried it wouldn't go over because we waited three months before trying one, but she didn't put up even the tiniest bit of a fight.  Just drank it like that was how it was meant to be done.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little hurt by that.  I mean come on!  Isn't it better straight from the source?  We gave her 2.5 ounces in the bottle that comes with the pump.  When she finished that, she didn't seem like she was hurting for more food, but I didn't know.  I put another 2 ounces in a Dr. Brown's bottle and she wouldn't take it.  Curious if she wasn't hungry any more or if it was the bottle I poured that milk into the Medela bottle and she drank it all.  Too bad we have a million freaking Dr. Brown's bottles...  Nonetheless, it is good to know that should I need to be gone she isn't going to starve.  And maybe possibly there will be a date night in the more near future?  (Mom, Dad, babysit, please?!?)

haha... sneeze

Poop talk alert, sorry everyone, and sorry Elsie!  The dairy free clean diet may have helped Elsie's reflux, but um, I think it has also caused her to stop pooping.  I have changed exactly one poopy diaper since April 24th.  It has been another week since that one.  I can't say I'm not concerned, she was pooping at least twice a day if not more, and then all of the sudden, nothing.  Her tummy still feels soft, and her stool looked relatively normal the last time she went, so it is possible that her system has just changed, and her little body is really only getting the nutrients it needs now, and not producing a lot of waste.  Just because she isn't making smelly diapers, doesn't mean the girl can't clear a room though.  Her toots are AWFUL.  Seriously awful.  Like her entire room sometimes smells like poop and I swear we must have left a diaper in there for two weeks.  But nope, just my baby.  Which leads me to believe there is something in there that needs to come out, but again, she isn't super fussy and doesn't seem to be in pain, so maybe there just aren't a lot of nasty diapers in my future for the next three months? 

Aside from our sleeping issues (isn't that always the case?) little Miss Elsie is a pretty darn good baby.  She can turn into a fuss monster if she is over tired, but if she is fed and isn't on the verge of needing a nap she is content to just hang out.  Either on her playmat, or sitting in someone's lap.  But she is not a cuddler, just like her sissy as a baby.  She gets pretty fidgety and would prefer to lay on her blanket while you talk to her.  And she is chatty!  Her little 'conversations' are just the cutest.  Sometimes it sounds like she says hello, hey and mama.  Also, she is pretty easy to get to smile, and I absolutely love that.  Her smiles are just the best (although Meredith's little Becca really has one of the best smiles I've ever seen, her whole face smiles!).


Elsie's head control has gotten quite a bit better this month.  April 23rd was the first time we really saw her hold her head up during tummy time on the floor.  She'd gotten it up pretty high while laying on the boppy, but that morning we had her on the floor and she just started rocking it!  Now she will tolerate tummy time a little longer.  Especially if her sissy is entertaining her, or she gets into looking at one of her toys.  After rolling over on her two month birthday (tummy to back), Elsie didn't do it again until the day before her three month birthday (May 7th).  I think it will still be a bit before that is a consistent skill, she usually just gets pissed off before she figures it out.  Lastly, in the motor skills department, E is really working on gaining control of her arms and hands.  She concentrates really hard, her arms start shaking and she'll move them toward an object.  Sometimes she'll just stare at her little fists, like she is just trying to figure them out.


Miss E definitely has a thing for her daddy.  When he comes home from work and she sees him, her little face lights up.  And if she is nursing and he is close to me talking, she'll pop off and search for him.  Cute, and annoying of course.  But cute.  It makes me happy though.  With as little as we saw Christopher in her first three months of life, I was kind of worried she wouldn't know who her daddy was.  Obviously they still have plenty of time to build a relationship, but I was worried she would take a bit to warm back up to him or something.  Nothing to worry about.  She loves him.  

Alright on to some more random stuff.  Both tear ducts are still clogged, and no, I still haven't put breast milk in her eyes yet.  I don't know why.  Her eyes still look like they're turning blue.  Her hair I'm not as sure about.  I think it is going to be a shade of blonde, but it looks darker than Ryann's did.  E has picked up the nickname Elsie Belsie, or Elsie Belsie Girl.  Not sure how it came about, but Ry and I both call her that.  And I can see the relationship between those two girls growing everyday.  Elsie loves to watch Ryann move about the room, and Ryann loves to help me with Elsie.  And be all up in Elsie's face all the time.  You know.


Whew! That is probably enough to share for now.  Miss Elsie you are the sweetest.  You are very loved.  I hope you always know that.

May 7, 2013

move it... tuesday?

I apologize that 'move it monday' wasn't up yesterday.  I know that no one is judging whether or not I post, but I still like to!  I've actually got a couple of design projects I'm working on, so the little free time I have that I'm working on those or trying to keep my house from looking like a complete disaster (ha, it almost always looks like a disaster).

The good news these days?  We finally reached the end of Christopher's hell month, so his schedule is much more pleasant.  The bad news that goes with that?  I don't have my parents around as much, so I actually have to figure out how to squeeze a workout into my day without someone to watch the girls.  And with that, I'm finding more and more excuses to not workout (especially a strength workout!).  No good.

Last week I got in a 4.4 mile run, a 2.5 mile run, a 3.8 mile run and a 1.4 mile walk pushing the girls in the stroller.  Pushing that thing is no joke.  I have the Baby Jogger City Select right now, and it has been great in the mall and such, very smooth and turns really well.  But an inline while walking on crappy sidewalks with 40+ pounds of kid?  I struggle to keep it going in a straight line.  I'm still toying with the idea of getting a double Bob so that I can run with the girls, and I think walks would be easier, but running with it sounds daunting.  I've never run with a stroller at all.

Also this month I've decided to attempt the plank a day challenge.  I saw a couple people doing it on instagram, and it seemed like a good and somewhat easy (ha) thing to tackle for the month.  I like that it doesn't take very long, and I can randomly do a plank in the middle of the day whenever I get a chance.  It is easy in that sense.  But OUCH.  My planks are getting tough!  I started at about a minute the first day, and as of yesterday (day 9), I planked for 1 minute 45 seconds.  I increased my time pretty quickly in the first few days, but it is a struggle to up it now.  I'm definitely hoping to be planking for over two minutes by the end of the month.  And I'm glad some of you are at this challenge with me!  Fun to see the progress on instagram.

Cleaning up my eating habits and being sugar free has still been going pretty well.  I did enjoy chips and cake on my birthday, and since there was leftover cake I had a piece the next two nights, but I've been sugar free again since Thursday morning.  I'm still not perfect on the non processed foods, but only in the sense that I'll eat the crusts off Ryann's bread, or I'll use a salad dressing or soy sauce or something in cooking.  But I'm not eating the junk that I used to.  Finally I'm starting to see some of the benefits.  My skin is clear, I don't really get headaches (unless it is related to sleep deprivation) and I don't crave chocolate or sugar quite as much.  I could still use more vegetables in my day, but I'm getting better at that too.  I've discovered that I love carrots with peanut butter, or guacamole.  I'm also working at eating at least one salad a day, a great way to get a bunch of veggies all at once.

I feel like I have more to say, but there are about 1000 other things begging my attention.  Hopefully I can squeeze in a stregnth workout and two runs during this week, and I have my first 5k post baby on Sunday!  I'm very excited and hope I can post a time that I personally feel proud of.


Link up your health and fitness posts below! 

May 3, 2013

dairy free chocolate cake with strawberries

Keeping it real right off the bat, this cake is ALMOST dairy free.  We used chocolate chips in the frosting therefore it is not entirely dairy free.  But don't they make dairy free chocolate chips?  So if you're actually allergic to dairy you could go that route.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way... for my birthday I wanted a cake.  My mom makes cakes for people's birthdays and I wanted one too.  But I've sworn off most dairy because it seems to keep Elsie from having terrible reflux.  I was pretty sure that a little bit of dairy wouldn't completely mess her up (hence the reason I didn't find an alternative to chocolate chips in the frosting) but I wanted to cut out as much dairy as possible.

Thanks to instagram I knew Rachel (@rachel32004) was dairy free so I sought out her expertise.  She didn't disappoint!  Of course I can never leave a recipe well enough alone so we messed with it a bit, but I'm happy with the outcome, and enjoyed my birthday just a little bit more.  The recipe intended for the cake to be baked in a 9x13 pan, and you can mix the ingredients right in the pan, but I wanted a round cake (cuter, duh) so we mixed it all in a bowl.


Dairy Free Chocolate Cake with Strawberries
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa into your bowl.
  3. Make three wells.  Pour oil into one well, vinegar into the second and vanilla into the third.  Pour cold water over all and stir well with a fork.
  4. Divide your batter into two round cake pans.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Let cakes cool.  Frost the first layer with your choice of frosting.  Top with a layer of strawberry slices.  Place second cake layer on top and frost the entire cake.

Easy Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Combine everything but the powdered sugar in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30-40 seconds, whisk until chocolate chips melt.  Return to microwave if the chips won't yet melt.
  2. Once the chips have melted whisk in powdered sugar.
  3. Spread your frosting while it is still warm.

This frosting recipe was found on The Yummy Life.  Be sure to check her site for other ingredient combinations for a full dairy version, and how to make other flavors of frosting.  Such an easy recipe!


May 1, 2013

a day in the life - julie

Good afternoon lovelies!  Sorry this is late going up, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all morning.  If you missed it yesterday, I'm working on lining up my next set of posters for the 'day in the life' series.  Make sure you check out the post and leave your info!

Today you get a peek at a day in the life of Julie.  Enjoy!


Hello there! I am Julie-- wife to my high school sweetheart for 5 years, and mom to Brayden (3.5) and Kenley (19 months). I write over at Back to the Basics, and you can also find me as a contributor over at Fancy Little Things and In the Moment With. In my spare time (which is very little!) I like to shop, read, and pursue photography. The day I will be sharing with you today was Monday, April 29th.

7am-- I get up, and I hear the little voice of my 3.5 year old. My husband has already gotten him up and got him some cereal (this is rare, I usually get up with the kids) so I take my time getting out of bed then head out to the living room with my computer in tow. I did a photo shoot over the weekend and I wanted to get a jump start on some editing.

8am-- Kenley is still asleep. This is typical for her, she usually wakes around 8:30-9am. I put the computer away, go start a load of laundry, sweep the laundry room floor, get a granola bar for Brayden, make our bed, and tidy up where I can without waking her up. Today I decided to quickly mop the laundry room floor because it was needing it desperately!

9am-- She is still asleep. Brayden wants to put his clothes on and play with his big train set in his room. I make a Vemma protein shake for breakfast and we go play in there.

 photo (14)

10am-- Kenley is finally awake! I get her up, make the kids scrambled eggs for breakfast, clean up the kitchen, and get the kids dressed. My husband is a farmer, and today he is working on equipment at the shed that is just a few blocks away. The kids love to play up there, and it is FINALLY nice out!

photo (15)
  photo (16)

12:30pm-- We walk back home and make some lunch. Corn dogs, fruit, and milk for the kids and leftovers for me. While the kids are eating, I start making my grocery list. Brayden goes to preschool Tuesday and Thursday morning, so Kenley and I go get groceries when he is at school. One kid at the store for the win!

 photo (17)

1:30-- Nap time. Brayden is hit or miss for naps these days, but I do make him rest with a book or a movie on while Kenley naps. During this time, I usually blog/do computer things-- today I have a photo shoot to edit!

3:45-- Kenley is awake. The kids have a quick snack and they want to go back to the shed. We go for our second walk of the day.

 photo (21) 

This is definitely rare, only because we haven't had that nice of weather here lately! The kids play with more chalk, more toy tractors, and then my hubby shows up. He needs to run over for a part, so we climb in the truck to go for a ride. Kenley LOVES this.

photo (22)

6:00pm-- We head back home and get some dinner. Leftovers for the adults, chicken bites, green beans, and yogurt for the kids. Since it has been so NICE out lately, I have barely cooked! Plus, I need to get to the store ASAP, too. I am running out of a LOT of things!

7:00pm-- Kids have a bath and we start to wind down for the night. I pick up toys, start the laundry, clean up the kitchen. Brandon helps get the kids dressed and hair combed, and I put on a movie.

8:00pm-- Bedtime for Kenley. She still gets rocked for a few minutes at night to settle her down, and then I put her down awake. Brayden goes to bed about 10-15 minutes after she does.

After the kids are in bed, Brandon and I head that way, too. Usually we watch TV in bed together or read-- I usually am asleep by 9:30-10pm. I just can NOT stay up past 10 on the week nights! I know-- lame.

Hope you enjoyed this look into my day! :)


Thanks for sharing with us Julie!